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Cooper hammers on HB 2 during Greensboro rally

Cooper

N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper, Democratic candidate for governor

N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper, Democratic candidate for governor

By Josh Bergeron

josh.bergeron@salisburypost.com

GREENSBORO — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Roy Cooper on Wednesday issued sweeping criticism of incumbent Gov. Pat McCrory and called the state’s previous four years a preview of a Donald Trump presidency.

In a speech during an event for Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine, Cooper focused on House Bill 2 when talking about North Carolina’s economy, which Republican leadership has touted as notably improved under McCrory. Cooper noted that businesses, conventions and concerts haven’t come to North Carolina because of the law.

He called for a total repeal of the law, which has been the subject of controversy for a provision that requires people to use public bathrooms corresponding with the gender on their birth certificate.

“We may never know how many businesses and conventions and tourists and potential jobs have been taken off the list for North Carolina because of this bad law,” he said. “That is what can happen when you elect leaders who put their political careers ahead of the people they serve.”

Cooper attempted to associate Trump with McCrory. He didn’t give specifics about the association between the two.

“Unfortunately, House Bill 2 is just a preview of what we would get in a Trump-McCrory agenda, and we are not going to let that happen,” Cooper said. “I continue to believe that North Carolina is better than this.”

The 2017 NBA All-Star Game moving out of Charlotte occurred specifically because of House Bill 2. Paypal cancelled plans for a 400-job facility in Charlotte. A number of musicians have canceled concerts because of the law. Dollar-figure estimates of losses because of House Bill 2 range from millions to billions.

“We have seen the damage that one, reckless law has caused our economy here in North Carolina,” Cooper said. “The last thing we need is a reckless president of the United States of America.”

There’s no doubt that North Carolina’s economy has grown during the past several years. More people live in the state, and the unemployment rate and associated statistics rank better than the same numbers during the economic recession. During his Wednesday speech, Cooper claimed that McCrory isn’t responsible for that growth.

“Make no mistake, many of our entrepreneurs here in North Carolina are still succeeding, but it’s not because of our governor,” Cooper said. “It’s in spite of him.”

The North Carolina GOP frequently criticizes Cooper for not doing his job as the state’s attorney general.  A GOP statement issued Wednesday, for example, asks why Cooper hasn’t represented North Carolina in court cases over a voter identification law recently struck down by a federal court.

“Roy Cooper should do the right thing for once and reimburse the state for the cost necessary to hire others to do his job,” said N.C. GOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse in a Wednesday news release. “A good question for voters is — why give Roy Cooper a promotion when he refuses to do the job he already has?”

Cooper’s decision to not represent North Carolina in a voter identification lawsuit likely comes from his opposition to the measure. He has called the law discriminatory, saying McCrory is “trying to defend the indefensible.”

During Wednesday’s event in Greensboro, speakers praised a recent federal court decision that found the law unconstitutional. Cooper said early voting may start earlier because of the lawsuit ruling.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.

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